Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day Three 

I'm at the end of day three of my visit home and an infection has taken a craggy hold on my throat. Sleep, Advil, hot toddies and salt water rinses have done little. It is a most frustrating thing. This hasn't been an easy visit. I don't enjoy seeing my father this way. I don't enjoy my reaction to seeing my father this way. I don't like myself when I repeat things more loudly and more slowly. I sound like a person holding back frustration. I sound like an asshole. Perhaps I am an asshole. I think I am an asshole.

Yet, I hear the same frustration and disillusion in the voices of my brothers. My mother asked if there was anything I needed for my cold, and I responded some zinc would be useful.

My Mom: "Zinc? What's that?"

Me: "Zinc, like a lozenge or supplement."

My Mom: "What? A lozenge?"

Me: "Yeah, you know, like a zinc supplement, like Vitamin C or Iron?"

My Mom: "Why, is that supposed to be good for a cold?"

Me: "Well, it's good for your throat."

My Mom: "I've never heard of such a thing. I've never heard of that before."

Me: "You've never heard of zinc tablets? Never?"

My Mom: "No. First I've heard of it."

Me: "You've never heard of anyone ever taking zinc as a supplement, like iron or vitamin D or Selenium?"

My Mom: "No. What was the last one you said?"

Me: "Ok, I can't believe you worked as a nurse for, how many years? And you're honestly telling me you've never heard of zinc or selenium supplements?"

I'll stop there, because I don't know what's worse, a son becoming argumentative to his aging mother or a women who has no knowledge of simple drugstore vitamins and will needle you to the death that it must be "some brand new thing". Mind you, it's always been this way in this house. I'll remind the reader, my mother doesn't really believe the Earth rotates the Sun and will only acknowledge it as "That's what they say." Combine stubbornness with an absolutism that would surprise Stalin and that's the sort of arguments you'll be up against. Not that I can't be wrong. I'm guessing I've been wrong about a dozen things since breakfast but I will only admit to one. That being that I had hoped I had become a patient person. An understanding person. Someone willing to accept that another person's experience can be different from my own.

At least I see where it comes from. The experience of being raised in a house where the prevailing attitude was that things outside of us don't exist or are folly. It doesn't matter if Newfoundland was a paradise of clean living and wholesome values (it isn't, but few places are), I could never live here. It's bad for me. I regress here. I go back to bad habits here. This place unlocks my dark matter and injects a virus into my lightness. A lightness I took years to foster. It took me years but I willed happiness from my spine like pressing water from clay and this place sucks that water up and leaves me harder. That's what being close to my family does to me, and I do not like it.

It's healthier for me to not be here. That might sound selfish, but it's not selfishness. It's self-preservation. Selfishness is wanting something beyond need. Self-preservation is needing something to survive, and I'd like to see myself as a survivor, but, I could be wrong.

Note: This may be the most openly confessional thing I've ever written here, or anywhere, but for once, I'd like someone to know what was on my mind.

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